I feel like the majority of my posts on this blog start with apologies for not posting more on this blog. So once again, apologies for delay. And a special apology to my seeming editor Max Hotkowski, who has been scathing in his denouncement of my post punctuality.
In my own defense, I have written two potential posts in the elapsed time. But in both cases I was ultimately displeased. The first because I couldn’t seem to make my point, and the second because my point was ghastly. I think the poor writing of those posts is exemplary of my general malaise the past month or so. There are many likely causes; a diminishing social circle, hurricane season making for more stormy days inside, and a sense of drudgery as data collection grinds on. That is not to say we are not making progress. At the present time we have collected 55 usable trials out of our target of 75. So there is certainly good news there. But it is difficult to overstate the frustrating nature of this type of experiment. I did the math and worked out that on a perfect day, which is one where we get two trials, for every minute I spend collecting data; I spend almost three hours trying to collect data. And we have had weeks were we collect four trials over six days. Hopefully that makes you feel better about your own vocational productivity.
This week was stormier than most, though in this case it was both metaphorical and literal. My assistant has taken ill with Dengue Fever. She has seen a doctor and has been assured a swift recovery provided she remains bed ridden. So she will be laid up for the remainder of the week, leaving me to sit on my hands.
Instead of hand sitting, I chose to find the silver lining of this particular storm cloud. I went to the island with camera in hand. Those with a keen analytical eye will note that when I was in South Africa I had glorious photos in nearly every post. These same people will similarly note that such photos have been lacking lately. This is because the current experiment weighs me down with an irritating amount of equipment. An amount I am unwilling to augment with my camera. As a result I have not taken many/any photos of the islands many happenings. But today I rectified that evil. I spent the whole morning strolling the island and either photographing or video taping the daily events of Monkey Island.
Today brought to mind a favorite quote of mine from Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, “work consists of that which you are obliged to do, play consists of that which you are unobliged to do.” I find that I quite agree with him. I spend forty hours a week walking, stalking, and talking with monkeys (though luckily they haven’t started talking back). But because I am obliged to do those things for my project they become work. Today, free from obligation it became play. I lipsmacked with a few juveniles (that sounds a lot creepier than it is… lip smacking is an affiliative placating gesture used by the monkeys), watched a couple of fights, and laughed as a monkey ran past me up on two legs with his mouth and arms full of chow. I enjoyed a day of simply sitting and watching. No agenda, no to do list. Just five hours watching monkeys and dwelling on how wonderful it to have the privilege .
A result of my day was a series of photos that capture some of the more mundane yet delightful elements of monkey life. My furry friends have an invariable schedule they follow. One that most who hear it are envious of. Their average day goes like this: They wake up, eat for 3 hours, take a nap, groom for a few hours, forage, and then go to sleep.
See you’re envious. Don’t worry, I am too.
So lets walk through it:
Sometimes I envy the life of a monkey. But then I think that the life of a human envying the life of a monkey has vastly more intrigue.